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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Thailand, Lesson 10 – Buddhist Lent Day
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Thailand Series at ThaiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Thai holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 10, Buddhist Lent Day. In Thai, it’s called วันเข้าพรรษา (wan khâo phan-săa).
In this lesson, we're going to discuss the first day of Lent, which falls on the first day of the waning moon in the eighth month every year. This is the day when monks have to be especially careful, because it marks the start of the period where they cannot go out and preach freely as they usually do.
You must be interested by now. If you're ready, let’s listen.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
During the Lent period, some people who aren’t monks also try to restrict their own behavior. What are the behaviors they restrict?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Monks in the Buddha era had a mission to preach the Buddha’s teachings to people in different places, without residing at a permanent location. In the rainy season or ฤดูฝน (rúe-duu fŏn), villagers complained that monks would walk through and ruin their crops and fruits. Therefore, the Buddha ordered that monks stay in one place for the whole three months of the rainy season. This was then called a Lent period. An exception was made when the monks had to undertake an activity that would take longer than one day. In that case, the monks could stay overnight at other places, but not for more than seven nights on one occasion.
A popular activity for Thai men in the Lent period is ordainment or การบวช (gaan bùuat). Temples nationwide organize an ordainment event for many new monks at the same time because of the high demand. As this is an appropriate time for men to stay in a temple for three months while senior monks are also staying there, they can be fully taught and study Dharma. In addition, the weather during the rainy season is suitable for learning, because it is neither too hot nor too cold.
Before the Lent period, there is a tradition of holding a Candle Festival parade. In Thai, parade is ขบวน (khà-buuan). This has been practiced for a very long time. As there was no electricity in the past, when many monks stayed together in a temple, they had to practice several daily routines, such as chanting in the morning and evening. Because of this, Buddhists often came together to make a large candle or เทียน (thiian) for the monks to use throughout the three months. Then they offered it to the monks in their local area. But before the offering, villagers often organized a joyful parade around the town. In some places, there is a competition for the decoration and carving of the Lent candles.
Exceptions made for monks, so they can stay overnight elsewhere for more than seven nights without violating the rule, include when they must take care of other ill monks or their parents. They make these exceptions in order to convince novices who want to leave the religion to change their minds, when carrying out duties for the monkhood, and when they are invited to make offerings at other locations.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
During the Lent period, some people who aren’t monks also try to restrict their own behavior. What are the behaviors they restrict?
Some people take this special occasion to voluntarily refrain from temptations. For example, they quit drinking alcohol and killing animals. Some people are even determined to quit these behaviors permanently. Some listen to preaching every day in the Lent period and strive to do good while refraining from their sins.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do monks in your country have a similar Lent period?
Leave us a comment telling us at ThaiPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!